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Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy vs Peugeot 208 GTi & Ford Fiesta ST

Renault has released a new, more potent Clio RS Trophy in a bid to reclaim the hot hatch crown. We see if it can beat Peugeot and Ford

The Renaultsport Clio ruled the hot hatchback roost for years, but when the current car was released in 2013 it was met with a frosty reception.

Best hot hatchbacks

In place of the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and manual gearbox, the new car debuted a 1.6-litre turbo engine and a dual-clutch paddleshift transmission. 

It robbed the car of some of its frenetic hot hatch thrills, but with this new 220 Trophy version, Renault claims it’s injected an added hit of va-va-voom.

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Best superminis

Power is now up to 217bhp, while the gearshifts are up to 50 per cent faster. The Trophy also benefits from stiffer dampers allied to a lower ride height to give it the extra focus and sharper edge it deserves.

But it’s going to face a tough task, as we’re pitching the Renault against its compatriot –the upgraded Peugeot 208 GTi – and one of our favourite hot hatches: the Ford Fiesta ST. With more power and suspension tweaks, the Peugeot’s performance has had a hike, too.

So to ensure the playing field is level, the ST we’ve lined up comes with a Mountune power pack. Does the Trophy have what it takes to beat the latest and greatest contenders?

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Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy review

Peugeot 208 GTi review

Ford Fiesta ST review

Click the links above for individual reviews, and scroll down to see which hot hatch wins this test...

Head-to-head

Badge wars

These three cars wear their extra badging for a good reason, as they’re even more focused versions of already highly tuned cars. However, it’s Ford that’s on form at the moment. The 208 GTi can finally hold a candle to the iconic 205, but the Trophy isn’t a match for its limited production predecessor.

Focused design

If you’re buying a hot hatch, looks are a big part. It’ll come down to personal choice, but for us, the Fiesta treads the line between regular hatch and back road rocketship best. The other cars’ unusual paintjobs won’t suit all – although you can tone them down with different colours.

Old vs new

Ford and Peugeot have stuck with the tried and tested three-pedal layout – and their models are all the better for it – but the Renault comes with a dual-clutch gearbox only. Unfortunately, the upgraded paddleshift set-up is still the car’s glaring weak point.

Verdict

1st place: Ford Fiesta ST

Yet again the Fiesta ST is our compact hot hatch winner, thanks to an unrivalled blend of spectacular performance, affordability, style and – importantly with cars in this sector – a huge grin factor. Every time you drive the Ford you’ll enjoy it – and that’s important, because this isn’t just a great car for a blast on the right road, but a brilliant all-rounder, too.

2nd place: Peugeot 208 GTi

The 208 GTi is a car that’s definitely got better with age. The small tweaks inherited from the 30th Edition have transformed the slightly soft-edged Peugeot into a more focused machine that can almost match the best on road and track. However, the pricier 208 can’t reach the highs of the ST’s engine and chassis, plus it’ll depreciate more.

3rd place: Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy

We were hoping for more from the Trophy and its upgrades over the standard Clio RS, as Renault has form applying the special nameplate to past Clios. While it’s still better than the regular car, with a snappier gearbox, the improvements still aren’t enough and the flat powertrain lets the agile and talented chassis down. 

Other options for similar money…

New: Volkswagen Polo GTI DSG 3dr

Price: £20,145 Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 189bhp

If you want a dual-clutch hot hatch, the VW Polo GTI is the other obvious choice. It’s got a sharper gearbox, but is nearly 30bhp down on the Trophy, and the chassis isn’t as sophisticated. It is the refined choice, though. 

Used: Audi S1 quattro 3dr

Price: £21,000 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 228bhp

Audi S1 2014 front

For a similar budget, a lightly used Audi S1 is in range. With a raucous 228bhp engine giving 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds, it’s massively quick thanks to quattro four-wheel drive. Refreshingly, it only comes with a six-speed manual.

Key specs:

 Ford Fiesta ST-3 MountunePeugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot SportRenault Clio RS 220 Trophy
On-the-road price/total as tested£20,144/£20,444£21,995/£22,640£21,780/£24,975
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£8,992/44.6%£9,225/41.9%£9,999/45.9%
Depreciation£11,152£12,770£11,781
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£878/£1,756£878/£1,755£950/£1,900
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,915/£3,191£1,802/£3,003£2,043/£3,406
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost30/£376/E/£13033/£387/D/£11029/£365/E/£130
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£550 (3yrs)£17pm (3yrs/30k)£399 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase3,982/2,489mm3,973/2,538mm4,090/2,589mm
Height/width1,468/1,764mm1,460/1,739mm1,432/1,732mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,596cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,618cc
Peak power212/6,000 bhp/rpm205/6,000 bhp/rpm217/6,050 bhp/rpm
Peak torque320/3,000 Nm/rpm300/3,000 Nm/rpm280*/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/repair kit50 litres/repair kit45 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)290/974 litres285/743 litres300/1,146 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,163/421kg/N/A1,160/490/1,150kg1,204/507/1,200kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.1 metres/0.33Cd10.6 metres/N/A10.9 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/78120,000 (1yr)/30018,000 (1yr)/300
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.25th/26th10th/5th7th/12th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars91/86/65/71/588/78/61/83/588/89/66/99/5
    
0-60/30-70mph6.4/5.4 secs6.3/5.6 secs6.6/5.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.5/3.5 secs2.9/3.9 secs2.8/3.8 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th4.3/5.9 secs5.3/6.3 secs5.7/7.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph139mph/2,600rpm143mph/2,750rpm146mph/2,600rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph44.2/32.0/8.1m48.3/35.8/9.1m44.5/34.4/8.8m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph64/47/60/69dB68/52/62/71db69/55/65/74dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range33.4/7.4/353 miles35.5/7.8/390 miles31.3/6.9/310 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined35.8/58.9/47.9mpg40.9/61.4/52.3mpg37.2/55.4/47.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined7.9/13.0/10.5mpl9.0/13/5/11/5mpl8.2/12.2/10.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket195/139g/km/22%184/125g/km/20%208/135g/km/22%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£200/noSix/yes/yes/£200Six/yes/yes/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise ctrlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part/yesYes/Alcantara/noYes/£1,600^/£1,600^
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£495/yes/yesYes/no/no£1,300/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yes£400/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/N/A/yes
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